Benedict XVI has declared Fr. Giuseppe “Pino” Puglisi a martyr, and because of that he is automatically declared “Blessed.”
He was a Sicilian priest who stood up to the mafia and lost his life in 1993 because of it. His mission field was the Brancaccio section of Palermo, which the Mafia runs. Fr. Puglisi spent a lot of time working with youth to show them why they shouldn’t associate with the mob. He obviously was having some effect because two local mob capi (or captains) didn’t just send someone to murder Father, they went and did it themselves. Both are now serving life sentences. During his murder trial, one of them said that the priest died with a smile on his face saying, “I expected this.”
Lost in the shuffle of Sheen
When the Pope declared Archbishop Fulton Sheen “venerable,” lost in all the flurry of attention this received was the fact that His Holiness also gave another American the same status.
Mother Mary Angeline Teresa McCrory founded the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm. This is an order she founded to minister to Christ in the person of the elderly.
She was born in Ireland, raised in Scotland, and at age 19, then-Brigid Teresa McCrory joined the Little Sisters of the Poor. After her Profession, her order sent her to the Bronx, where she became the superior in 1927.
Her order wanted her to do things the European way, but she quickly saw that this wouldn’t work, because, well, the Bronx wasn’t European. America needed something American. So she went to Cardinal Patrick Hayes and asked him for his advice, and he totally agreed with her. But he also challenged her, because while New York had several orders that served the poor, it had none that focused specifically on the aged, and these folks had so many pressing needs. (The more things change, the more they stay the same.)
Thus her inspiration to found Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm. She died in 1984 and to be declared venerable merely 28 years later ain’t too shabby.
First Opus Dei bishop declared “Venerable”
The Holy Father also recently declared the heroic virtue of the late Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, who was the first Opus Dei prelate and Opus Dei founder St. Josemaria Escriva’s first successor. He was born in 1914 and received Holy Orders at age 30 in 1944, the same year he received his PhD because of his thesis on the early exploration of California’s coast.
By the time of his death 18 years ago in 1994, Opus Dei had expanded in 20 new countries under his leadership.
Past popes possibly up for beatification in the Year of Faith
Everythingis evidently in place for the beatifications of both Pope Paul VI and his successor John Paul I. If Benedict XVI beatifies them in this Year of Faith, it will be the first time in history that a pope has beatified his three immediate predecessors or three preceding popes, period.
While both have miracles awaiting review, with John Paul I, the Vatican would really have to fast track things because the positio—the mountain of paperwork that lays out the case for why someone should receive beatification—has only recently been delivered to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the Vatican’s office in charge of reviewing sainthood causes. However, you can imagine how that wouldn’t thrill those sainthood causes that already have their positios in the pipeline.
It’s not the same situation with Paul VI, since his cause already has submitted its positio. The alleged miracle attributed to his intercession and which awaits verification involves the healing of a baby who was still in the womb.
Second miracle for Bl. John Paul II?
If a second miracle attributed to Bl. John Paul II is approved, and Pope Benedict canonizes his former boss, it may be the first time in history that a pontiff not only beatified a predecessor but canonized him, as well. It certainly would be the first time someone did this with their immediate predecessor.
The miracle allegedly happened to Marco “Fidel” Rojas, a Columbian politician, who, after suffering the effects of Parkinson’s disease for five years, finally couldn’t stand the pain any longer. He evidently had met Bl. John Paul after Mass while in Rome once, so he asked his “friend” to come and heal him and to put his hands on Mr. Rojas’ head.
The next morning, this man found himself completely cured of the disease. He is so grateful, he plans to pay back the former pontiff by spreading devotion to him.
Worth Knowing More About
We’ve already reported on this, but to learn more about the truly remarkable Dr. Jerome Lejeune, founder of the gene that causes Down’s Syndrome, founding president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, friend of John Paul II, and the father of modern genetics, see this relatively new article here.